Five Decades in the Making, Adopt-A-Boat Gave Me Opportunity

AYC Lake Pleasant Lake Captain and J/70 crew David Newland this Sunday (11/11) did a foolishly brave thing: after never before sailing one, he adopted a Laser and went sailing at Tempe Town Lake in heavy, puffy wind. Crazy maybe, but he decided to, mmm, take the plunge.

Race results for the day

By David Newland

AYC Lake Captain David Newland at more familiar controls: the Boston Whaler. Photo: Mike Ferring

Overweight and out of shape, I decided to sign up for Bowline Cross Fit. I felt very intimidated when I arrived and saw Hurley crunching 100 sit-ups, Bernard bobbing and weaving the double-end boxing bag and Gibbs speed-skipping the gym rope.

Wait, did I say Bowline Cross Fit? I meant Laser racing.

In the late 70s, I spent many weekends motoring around Marina del Rey in my little Whaler. I liked to idle down and spectate when the kids were racing Lasers in the harbor. It looked like a ton of fun and I was quite envious. Getting hooked up with them never materialized.

Well, five decades and 120 pounds later (maybe 130), I got my chance! The weather forecast was on point this past weekend, so I reached out to Grant Younger to get signed up for an Adopt-a-Boat. He helped me pick out my weapon of choice and Joel Hurley helped me rig it (and de-rig and re-rig the items I thought I knew how to do without any instruction whatsoever).

OK, so far so good. Winds were blowing 20. KPH. Felt like MPH to me (And sometimes was –ed.). I got the Laser launched and was overly confident with the stability of this 2×4. Maryellen Ferring was helping with the bow line and just as she said, “don’t step on the…,” I stepped on the foredeck, and was immediately in the water. Note to self: That’s the wrong way to board a Laser.

What transpired during the next three hours was quite the combination of emotions. Mostly fun. Lots of laughs out loud to which the spectators on the shore and in manually-powered craft (to which I gave right-of-way) probably thought I left my medication at home.

Frustration. Mostly because I was envisioning my younger self in MDR. I just can’t duck the boom as efficiently as I probably could have 40 years ago! Surprisingly, I did fine. I still have all my teeth and no concussion symptoms yet.

Anxiety. That moment when you (okay, I) lose the tiller and the main sheet at the same time, knowing that capsizing is imminent. Thanks, Joel, for retrieving my hat. Did you see my Oakleys?

Let me digress for a moment. The wind was blowing. I faltered. Joel, from his cockpit, was able to maneuver his boat to help start my righting process, fixed some issue with my main sheet, located my hat, and then sailed off.

I survived. Quite well actually. I wasn’t a worthy racer, but I knew going in that racing wasn’t going to be my priority. It was getting my feet wet (and every other body part) with the Laser Fleet at TTL. What a great group of sailors. And thanks to Adopt-a-Boat for the opportunity.

Thank you Race Committee, as well as Toyota Motor Company for making a fantastic waterproof key fob, and to Bayer, maker of Aleve.

Oh: my disembarking. Yup. Cannonball! No more Laser foredeck for me.

You know it’s windy when the Laser sailors start swimming. This shot was taken a few years ago, but it could have been snapped Sunday. Photo: Mark Howell